Kanpur, Sep 21 (IANS) India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin will work towards regaining the No.1 spot in the Test bowlers rankings in the three-match series against New Zealand.
The first match, India’s 500th Test, will begin here on Thursday.
Third-ranked Ashwin, who held the top spot for a fortnight at the end of 2015 and again for a week in July this year, starts the series just 19 points adrift of top-ranked Dale Steyn of South Africa and 11 points behind England’s James Anderson.
Ashwin needs only seven wickets to reach 200 Test wickets and could become the second fastest to the milestone after Australia leg-spinner Clarrie Grimmett if he achieves the feat in the series opener at Kanpur, which will be his 37th Test.
Ashwin has also been the top-ranked all-rounder since overtaking Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan in December last year.
Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja too has an opportunity to gain important points on home pitches to better his eighth position, while for New Zealand, left-arm pace bowler Neil Wagner will be leading a pack of pace bowlers ready to take the challenge of slower pitches in India.
In the Test batsmen rankings, New Zealand captain Kane Williamson is best-ranked from either side in third place with 876 points, just two points behind England’s Joe Root in a list led by Australia captain Steve Smith with 906 points.
India’s Ajinkya Rahane is the other batsman in the series inside the top 10 in eighth position, while experienced New Zealand batsman Ross Taylor (14th) and India captain Virat Kohli (16th) will be aiming to break into the top 10.
India will be targeting to seize back the top spot in the Test team rankings from arch rival Pakistan by winning the series against New Zealand.
A 1-0 or 2-1 win will take India to 111 points but ahead of Pakistan on decimal points while a 2-0 win will see India clearly ahead at 113 points. A 3-0 win will move it to 115 points. New Zealand, which is currently on 95 points, will remain at seventh position with any of these margins with the maximum drop to 91 points in case it loses all three matches.
A 1-1 series draw will result in India dropping to fourth position on 108 points and New Zealand rising to fifth spot on 97 points.
If New Zealand is able to edge India by 1-0 or 2-1, it will move to fifth position at 100 points with India one slot ahead on fourth position with 104 points. New Zealand can overtake India to take fourth position only with an improbable 3-0 win.
If India goes to the top of the rankings, it would be doing so for the third time this year and fourth overall. Apart from its short stay at the top in August, it was also top-ranked in January-February this year. Its longest stint at the number-one position was from November 2009 to August 2011.